Monday 30 October 2006

Look back in.... theology?

Looking back at yesterday's posting is almost embarassing.

It's all my immediate feelings, full of Me! I! Me! I! Guess it has the saving grace of being a 'spur-of-the-moment' thing and honest, but it isn't particularly sound

It makes me wonder how much 'right thinking' is something that we have to place on ourselves as a discipline and how much comes from the heart. Obviously the answer is *both* but that's not really satisfactory. It seems to me that the heart needs to 'want to' take on the right thinking for the discipline to be effective. Otherwise we get into the whole following rules approach to belief, and that's really not building anyone up.

As for me, I'm convinced my heart has a lot to learn

It's unlikely that this subject will get persued a lot here, but it's one that has been swimming quietly under the surface for a long time. With certain blogs and fora that I post on there have been times I've paused and thought "can I really post this? Am I actually living in what I'm posting or am I just simply pasting my ideals up for everyone as if I were really doing it". The thing is, the net is a place where we can pretend to be all kinds of things we aren't, and it suits the 'bedroom theologian' (like a bedroom guitarist) very well. It's great to discuss and stimulate one another, but it needs to become real.

Where is real?

Real probably happens somewhere on that discipline and heart interface. Where things cross over from the make-believe of the discipline into the reality of the heart.

Or maybe I'm just talking pretentiously through my bottom.

Sunday 29 October 2006

Amazing grace of God this afternoon.

I've frequently been frustrated about my lack of singing ability. At school I had a strong dislike of communal singing - even got slippered for not singing in class by an 'old boy' who must have fought in WWI because I'm sure Mr. Saunders was too old to have fought in WWII.

I first 'discovered' my lack of singing ability at the age of 17. I'd always asumed that although my voice was a little *unreliable* it would work more-or-less OK given a chance. On stage in front of an audience with nothing but an acoustic guitar wasn't the ideal place to find out, but the message did arrive quite clearly.

And so, in my adult life I've been the one playing guitar, hanging in the background, just stepping forward occasionaly to solo, then drifting to the back again. Then came the need to lead worship in church.

The first time I was nervous. Nervous is a good work: I wasn't terrified in bowel loosening fashion as happens to some people, but I certainly wasn't comfy either. In order to make it work I 'borrowed' the services of some good friends to stand next to me and sing for/with/instead of me. Maureen and Helen did really well, generally coping with my lack of signals and following the guitar nicely. I had the mic on and attempted to follow the tune, but I was really a guitarist, and would frequently find that I'd just skipped a couple of lines to concentrate on getting the guitar part right.

After 3 or 4 sessions like this I realised that I was starting to hear myself through the PA, and the majority of the time it was reasonably in tune. This was a big surprise, as I'd always been the proverbially awful singer. However the voice wasn't realiable, and certainly wasn't up to starting proceedings of in the right key every time, and this is how it remains to this day.

Today I was leading worship again, with the church the fullest I've seen it in quite a while. I had some extra musical help this time, with Clive keyboarding, Ben (Clive's son) on Electric guitar and Jackie + Helen (the same one) covering vocals. For the first time I can remember I was quite relaxed out front and was quite happy to focus on mostly singing. God had given me some things clearly to say and a pattern to follow, so I said them and then went for it. Also for the first time I was disappointed when we stopped (usually I'm glancing at the meeting leader to see when we can break after 30 mins). I'm still a little high, like I've just finished a gig more than 3 hours after we stopped. I was soaked in sweat after we finished playing and absolutely loving it.

What's the point of this post title?

There's often a bunch of teenagers hanging around the hall we meet in, and for some reason, when we had opened up and set up they all wandered in before the meeting. Some of them seemed really touched by the whole meeting. Mark W stood up and was 'interviewed' by Steve B about how he got saved off the local drugs scene. Julie C talked about what God had done in her life when she was so ill recently. Although the younger ones were in and a fair bit, the older lads stayed all the way through including the preach, even hanging around afterward to talk to Steve and Mark and his wife Hermione. They all said they wanted to come back next week too.

I've a feeling a lot of this was for their benefit, and I've been allowed to enjoy the overspill.

Thunder in the kitchen

This is nothing to do with herds of overweight cooks running through, nor a disoriented Leo Sayer.

Finally managed to get the parts to fix the Rayburn : looks like a cooking range that supplies heat to the house + hot water. It's a pressure jet burner, and when the flame is on there is a distinct rumbling noise in the background.

It's a comforting sound to me as I lay in bed on a winters morning. It tells me that the house will be OK when I get up and that there's enough hot water for a shower.

It's not been the most reliable of heating appliances though. Many is the morning I've laid in bed, listening to the sound of the burner, hearing it splutter and then catch again, or even worse, wondering if I heard it splutter and then playing the sound back again and again in my semi-awake state to identify what I really did hear.

Maybe I'll bite the bullet in another year or 2 and replace the burner unit. I've spent about £100 on parts in the last 12 months: a new burner was about £600 last autumn. I guess it's done 10 years for us, so I shouldn't complain. Just somehow it's never seemed reliable, and usually breaks down in the Christmas holidays in a way beyond all natural odds. God graciously letting it keep going until I'm around to sirt it or just gently throwing me a little challenge when I've time to cope? Or maybe it just simply doesn't like Christmas?

Friday 27 October 2006

I rather liked this.

Wonder if Johanna plays?

Does anyone else?

Write large blogposts of your more 'off the wall' thoughts.

The ones that go on and on.

The ones that when you've written 80% of what you want to say, you realise it sounds like nonsense outside of the logic of your own head.

I've done a couple of those now. What a waste of time.

A post from yesterday, written in word.

People are weird.

Me included probably.

I’ve been trying to push fitness and endurance levels up a little (and my vanity is hoping for weight down) this last week.

Sunday the boy and I had a leisurely 12 mile-ish ride. Monday and Tuesday I extended my journey home to around 7 ½ undulating and absolutely flat out miles. Last night I did circuit training without an energy bar ‘top up’ first.

My hip joints damn well hurt this morning, knees a little less as well as tummy muscles, thighs and shoulders being uncomfy. Pretty sure the joint pain is trapped nerves – certainly HOPE so, as I’m due a replacement soon otherwise. It’s suitable retribution for feeling pleased with my performance last night.

And I’m still stuck on 12st 1lb this morning.

I’ve considered cutting food down further, but have reached the point where I can eat reasonably and still not feel like a complete bloater, so this is probably as low as it’s going. 11st 10lb would be nice but I don’t think it’ll happen this side of 60 without some serious deprivation. Ascetic I’m not.

What’s this got to do with weird?

Some people like pain and discomfort. Oh, there’s all those classic schoolboy smutty jokes about sadists and masochists, but some people really do enjoy the pain from exercise. Neither Chris nor I are one of them and although there’s a certain feel good factor from working out, the actual work outs just hurt, but I seem to keep meeting people like this. I just find it weird that people should enjoy the sensation of their bodies telling them to stop before you really do some damage.

Odd? Absolutely.

Thursday 26 October 2006

I'll be offline again today

Work to do, things to make.


Wednesday 25 October 2006

There are times

that Chris and I feel like we'd like to live in another country, with fewer rules and less regulations trying to make us live a particular way.

This kind of thing, while well intentioned, is just another example of what's wrong with the UK.

There's too many people all occupying the same island.

Tuesday 24 October 2006

I'm not ignoring you

I'll be offline all day today, so it's not personal.

Monday 23 October 2006

What is it about winter?

That makes me want to build amps again?

Just started work on an amp for a guy I know through Harmony Central. There's no money in it for me, but it will satisfy my enjoyment without costing me anything more than time too.

The guy that originally assembled this amp must have been a plumber - there's so much solder in the amp. Last night I stripped all wires from the chassis. The next step will be to check which components are OK and which were fried/broken during assembly. Then finally I can start re-wiring, which is rather like a jigsaw puzzle where you have to actually cut the pieces to shape. Oh, and the only instructions I have are in German, although the schematic and layout are both international.

Quite looking forward to trying this one. It's like a 2 channel, 'clean' plus super-high-gain version of that little 'purity' I built in the spring. Only 5W, but it'll be a loud 5W.

Once this is done I'd really like to start a version of a Marshall JTM45 with 2 EL34s and around 30 watts. We'll see.....

Sunday 22 October 2006

Apparently I'm Dave Gilmour

Which famous guitarist are you?
Your Result: David Gilmour

You play from the heart. You also deliver a great show anytime. You have skill, but you really don't like to show off. You let the music come in second to the visuals of the show. You prefer to play with people who know what they are doing.

Jimi Hendrix
Adam Jones
Jimmy Page
Tom Delonge
Dimebag Darrell
Synyster Gates
Which famous guitarist are you?

Saturday 21 October 2006

The breakfast church

We're meeting here for breakfast tomorrow (Sunday) morning.

Hopefully see you all then.

Well, we got a ride in this afternoon.

Ben and I, that is.

Not far, around a fairly gentle hour's worth on the road (and he had slick tyres too - makes it desperately easy.... with the wind behind you.

Managed to build up the new frame far enough to ride that too, with bits borrowed from the Diamondback. It isn't what I'd expected, and there'll need to be quite a bit of adjustment to make it fit.

The good bit is that when you put effort in it responds well. There's a steep hill in the middle of Steeple Aston, and standing up going upit felt like the bike was almost pushing me forward. This is just what I needed for the winter, when trails get axle-deep in cag. It also corners very well, with an 'on rails' feeling that I've never had before, yet is sensitive to steering input without being twitchy. Ben wasn't going off-road with his tyres, but I did ride down the path beside the road coming out of Steeple Aston (fast and covered in loose gravel) and it felt completely at home, even letting it drift a little on the bend.

The less good - it's a VERY firm ride. The frame is a touch large at 19", and I can't get quite enough seatpost sticking out to absorb shocks. Also despite the 23" top tube, it feels quite short, low and upright: disappointing as I'd wanted to stretch out a bit, but there's adjustment to be made still. The forks currently on there are an old set of Marzocchi Z4s that I replaced the seals and stuff in last weekend. These tend toward 'tough' rather than 'plush' suspension, and respond well to bigger hits, but not to road ripple like my Fox forx.

So overall good, with a definite racey feel. It's come out quite light - I'd guess around 24 to 25lb, and a couple of pounds lighter than Ben's Saracen hardtail. Need to get a replacement front mech (wrong one sent) front disc brake (ditto) handlebar stem and some mudguards for it to be 'finished'.


Hope Kita is having a good time down in P'mouth with Dan (and Dan's having a good.... etc).

Hi, you 2.

Friday 20 October 2006


Chris writes;
Back when it was Toni's birthday & he wanted a load of CD's I discovered on the same site I could get a remastered CD of Argus by Wishbone Ash. This was an album Toni had (has?) which he used to play a lot when we were first married & which I rather liked. I ordered it but hadn't got around to listening to it until Toni put it on for me earlier.

Sarah really liked 'The Prophet's Song' by Brian May & I therefore thought that she would enjoy 'Warrior' & 'Throw Down the Sword' from Argus, but I didn't know you could get it on CD until recently.

Too late.

Oh crap!

Thursday 19 October 2006

In case you wondered......

I'm still here.

Without realising it, this blog slipped past the 1000 post mark a couple of weeks ago.

So life goes on. I want to reduce my net useage. I want to be more hard working. I want to become pro-active. I want to be more caring. I want to be someone else apparently, because all those things aren't really like me.

Not depressed, so much as contracted really. And I still haven't completed that bike (so near, yet so far).

Life isn't without successes. But I just keep trundling on, rather than living life to the full.

Wonder if my motorcycle has been fixed yet?

Random thoughts do not make for good blogposting.

Monday 16 October 2006

This may seem odd for one so verbose.

I don't really have a lot to say right now.

Kind of gone-to-ground.

Friday 13 October 2006

Bonjour mes amis

Yup, I'm back.

France was fine, but the hotels mostly don't have net connections in the rooms.

Now I'm just dozy.


Tuesday 10 October 2006

Well hi from France.

Or should that be 'high'?

I seem to have developed my cold nicely. If anyone remembers the 'Carlsberg' adverts, my voice sounds just like the guy doing the 'Carlsberg, probably the best lager' voiceover. And in contrast to the previous occasion I came to France, my French has dinminished from lack of use while their English is equivalent. I even keep thinking 'Si' and 'Grazi', or 'Jah' and 'danke'.

Had drunks shouting in th hallway of the hotel last night - even hammering on the door at one point. They went away about 12.30am. :-((

Tonight I head into Paris. Right now I'm in the corporate headquarters at Cergy Pontoise, about 30km outside Paris. Tomorrow we're off to Lille to meet and demonstrate in another lab.

Au revoir - laterz folks.

Saturday 7 October 2006

Now I'm tired with a headache.

We had an 'ampfest' today.

Some of the guys I know through Harmony Central (seriously good guitar players) run a studio in Liverpool. We're always talking about amps and stuff, so when they suggested having a get together I grabbed my stuff and went for it.

The M6 made like a carpark, and after nearly 4 hours drive I arrived, 3.30ish.

Unload: Woodcross P1eX, Madamp A15, Vox baby, Metisse purity, 2 1X12 cabs with some 70s Greenbacks and 6 guitars. All down into a basement.

Most of my kit is low wattage - 15 watts tops - and only the Madamp could really keep up with the 50W and 100W heads through 4X12 cabs. The Madamp was grabbed by one of the studio guys (Big Hair - he shaves his head) as soon as he heard it, went straight off to record their version of 'Tie Your Mother Down'. This was funny as they have many top end of amps there, but it just nailed that raw, gritty and aggressive May tone.

So we jammed a bit: blues, Led Zep's Rock n Roll, Alright now.

Set up the Metisse Purity for Al (the studio engineer) in a seperate room, as it couldn't be heard with only 5W output againsty the other stuff. Then suddenly it was 6.20 and I had to load the car back up again. Finally got home at a couple of minutes before 10 - didn't even get to eat as the queues in the motorway service station were long and IU didn't want to be late to collect Chris. If she calls in time I'll get chips after picking her up.

Good time - just wish we'd had a full day and I could keep up with some of the other guys.

Friday 6 October 2006

Now I'm just getting a little nervous.

Next week I have a trip to France - training demonstrating in 2 labs: 1 in Paris and 1 in Lille.

That's OK, however I have to meet the head of our French company in Paris. I will arrive at the Gare du Nord, she at the Gare du Lyon. I'm going to have to buy a ticket to a place I can't pronounce so we meet in the middle.

Lets hope the Parisian train drivers don't decide to strike like they did last time I was there. Chris did a fantastic job getting the family across to parc Asterix and back while I was working - would have beaten me. BTW the kids reckoned PA as substantially better than Eurodisney, if you want do the theme-parc thing in France.

Worship Meme

Courtesy of Fernando and his desk.

1. One worship song that has changed your life.

I'm not sure a worship song has ever changed my life. A church I was part of when I was young put quite a bit of pressure on me not to sound like a rock musician, only for a lot of the songs less than 10 years later to sound a like I'd been playing. So there came a time when the way I'd played was no longer un-acceptable, and in some ways that brought freedom, while in others it brought disappointment. So no one song, but a change in attitudes maybe, both that of others and of me.

2. One worship song that you rarely get tired of playing.

"Jesus, we enthrone you". It's a simple, powerful song with a chord progression that remains musically interesting and lyrical content that orients the worshipper and God. It's a song that I can imagine people still singing in 100 years alongside "Oh for a thousand tongues".

3. One worship song you wish had never been written.

All those childish, rather than childlike songs with demeaning words and actions: the ones the adults sing at the kids and the children are embarassed for them.

4. Best worship experience you’ve ever had.

Tricky. One event does stand out especially - at a Dales Bibleweek in Harrogate (when I was a teenager) with about 10,000 people singing in the spirit. We were all just flowing together for maybe 20 or 30 minutes. I was young enough to just let go and be caught up in the novelty to be fully absorbed in the way the Spirit was moving through us.
More recently - say 3 years ago - in the same place, there was a worship team from a church in Poland that lead the worship time at a Salt and Light event there. Normally I get a little (or a lot) frustrated by the musical arrangements of worship teams, but these people knew how to flow in the spirit without words, yet expressing meaning through their music. It was one of the few times I've felt where the worship wasn't being restricted by the musicians, and instead there was a freedom and lightness - it felt like they were playing as I would want to. The lack of words clearly did not work for some, and things were cut a little short.

5. Worship songs you wish there were more of.

This is quite difficult - it's easy to say which songs you'd prefer less of. I'd like more songs with feeling that's not cliched in the music, and a greater depth of lyrical content, but which are not patterned after hymns - we don't want to write any more 2 century old pop music. Songs that cover the stirrings of the heart, but written by adults, rather than adults trying to sound like love-torn, peri-orgasmic teenagers would be nice too. Instrumental? Maybe, but that usually ends up in washes of tinkly piano sounds with running water in the background.

6. Pass it on.

Lucky victims.....
Dixie at Vandermeander
Nikita at Smiliekita.blogspot
Johanna at Gummie-worm pizza

Thursday 5 October 2006

Specially for Becky

A little touch of Jane Austen's 'Persuasion' being filmed by the BBC while we were in Bath.

I've deliberately cut the obvious signs of the 21st century out of the first 2, but polystyrene cups are a give-away in No. 3.

Alpha tonight

Rather looking forward to it starting.

Kita - if you're reading this, we're expecting to pick you up at the bus stop. Just let Chris know if you've caught the bus OK. I'll be offline all day.

If anyone from the Bicester/Oxford area wants to do an alpha course then see you at 13 Nuffield close, Bicester, 7ish this evening.


Wednesday 4 October 2006

Feels like winter is here

Blummin' eck it was cold.

8'C in central Oxford. I reckon it was 5'C max in Somerton, usually colder here in the valley.

Wearing summer shorts, even with a fleece top (which the chill cut right through) was a bad plan. Even my fingers were numb in spring/autumn weight gloves by the time I got here, and haven't completely warmed up even now. Still, at least I wasn't too sweaty.

That was a GOOD time.

We stayed here in the end. It's very central (which makes actually driving to the hotel 'interesting') and elegant in a friendly, rather than pompous way.

Monday night (the day before our anniversary, but what the heck) we went to the Thermae Bath Spa. It's a little spendy, but really enjoyable - swimming under the stars in a warm pool, baking in scented steamrooms - all good stuff. Got us ready for dinner in probably the best Indian restaurant we've been to. Sleeping was difficult with such a full tum.

Tuesday we wandered round the old Roman baths. Been there before, but not for quite a long time, so it wasn't so bad. The pools are quite remarkable, if you don't mind archeology.

And so home last night.

It was the actual anniversary, and we took Ben out for a meal. He met friends there, and was more animated with their company than ours, but I guess that's how it goes. He did get us a winerack for the occasion (I had suggested Chris would appreciate a card - details, details) so we shouldn't be churlish.

But a good time away. Thankyou for your prayers for us.

Monday 2 October 2006

OK, we're off.

FINALLY found a hotel that looks nice and happened to have someone that could answer the phone. Harrington's here we come.

Now, pack in 5 mins.

What is it with hotels in this country?

2 different hotels in Bath, can I contact them by telephone? Can I heck.


Tis a curious time.

As of tomorrow, we shall have been married 25 years. That's not why it's curious.

In my mid teens I had quite serious depression for a variety of reasons, but by the grace of God didn't do anything irreversible and came through the other side.

At a time when we should be celebrating I've been finding those feelings coming back when I should be over them. The last week was a time of fluctuating between normality and blackness, and even in the periods of normality, all I really wanted was to hide. I know reality, and although it stops me doing stupid things it doesn't always enable me to carry on as normal.

Dunno where this is going really - I hate being a black hole for prayer and sympathy, and I also hate it when I can't respond to people's love and care - but I just need to keep pressing on.

So that's it, really. Sorry if I've seemed distant or vacant recently, but this is why.